The second day got off to a late start. We lumbered downstairs at 25 after 10 and were pleased that breakfast continued to be served at the hotel for another 5 minutes. This was such a pleasant way to start each day because the breakfasts at Le Comptoir du Relais were simple, yet perfectly suited my needs. Each morning, we were served croissants, baguettes, jambon, cheese, yogurt with a rhubarb and celery compote (which sounds and looks disgusting but it had a sweet and salty thing that went so well with the yogurt), and any type of coffee you liked.
After breakfast, it was time to just relax and walk around the city, flâneur style. We made our way towards the Louvre and walked through the Tuileries enjoying the spectacle that Paris presents when you have a Chamber of Commerce type day. As we made our way to the L’Orangerie, I noticed a small child playing with her parents and it made me think of my daughter. She is almost two years old and during that fleeting moment, I actually thought it would have been a good idea if she was on the vacation.
Feeling guilty that she was at home and I was in one of the most beautiful places I could imagine, I called the house just to hear her sweet voice. The call went to voicemail. Next, I called my parent’s house, thinking that my mother must have taken Madeleine there for breakfast. No answer. I then call my Mom’s cell phone. She answered and began to make small talk. I explained how I wish she could see what I was looking at, as I was seated in front of the L’Orangerie looking out on the Place de la Concorde. Curiously, I asked, “Where are you? You didn’t answer the phone at my house or yours?” She responded quietly and slowly, “I don’t want to freak you out.” I said, “Well, now I am freaking out. Tell me!” “I am at the UK Hospital. Madeleine began wheezing yesterday and then started having a really hard time breathing. We took her to the local hospital and then she was transferred here by ambulance last night. She’s doing ok though.” Suddenly, the vacation that I had thought about every day for two years took a back seat to panic. I was told that she would probably be discharged that day and I would get a call when they were leaving the hospital. I said if she doesn’t get discharged that day, I would be booking my flight home the next day.
After consoling her Mom for nearly an hour, I told her we’d do anything she’d like to do. This statement resulted in a day filled with glances at the telephone interspersed with window shopping and actual, full blown shopping. Walking from Rue St. Honore to Place Vendome to the Galeries Lafayette, we finally ended up at Au Printemps. Despite being an avid nonsmoker my entire life, I stepped on the butt of the 5th cigarette that I had chain-smoked before entering this temple of couture. Not exactly feeling the curative properties that shopping can have on some, I opted for a strong drink and something to eat.
We had a very late lunch that day that really could be considered more of a snack. Somehow recalling a post on chowhound, I remembered that there was a good place on the 6th floor that fit the bill. Feeling the need for some sort of divine intervention, sitting under the gorgeous stained glass dome with a bourbon and water was very close to a religious experience. We ordered the beef carpaccio and a cheese plate which we shared. The beef carpaccio was actually very good. It was topped with arugula, poached organic egg, caper berries and shaved parmesan cheese. The cheese plate was not really amazing but at 9 euros, I wasn’t expecting salvation. There were 3 different cheeses and they must have been pulled from the refrigerator immediately after they were ordered. The cheese came with an endive salad dressed in a lemony vinaigrette. To describe the cheese plate in one word, I would use adequate. I did enjoy this stop mostly due to the surroundings and the bourbon, however, I would only recommend the beef carpaccio while you gawk at the dome.
Having done all the damage we could do on the shopping front, we began walking back to the Saint Germain. As I strolled by a café with people spilling out into the street, I glanced at a couple that I believed I recognized. I stopped for a second a stared. It was them. I noticed them from a blog that a poster on chowhound writes of which I check daily. (full disclosure: I am not a blog type of person but there is something about hers that I can’t seem to get enough of.) I asked Sarah if I should stop and introduce myself. I was informed just how creepy that would be and how I would come off as a stalker rather than it being the random, chance encounter that it was. I asked again if I should say something and she defended her answer so vehemently that I took her word for it. We kept walking.
We finally crossed the Seine and were walking on the Left Bank, opposite of the Louvre when I noticed something amazing. My favorite college football team was on TV in a small Canadian bar… in Paris. I stopped dead in my tracks and was transfixed on the screen. Knowing that I had done what she wanted to do all day long, she said, “If you want to stop and watch the game, that is fine with me.” Unicorns flew under brightly colored rainbows immediately after that statement was uttered.
As I sat down on the small wooden bench, I immediately received the phone call that we had been waiting for all day. Madeleine was going home and would be alright. I hung up and was beaming. Did I mention unicorns and rainbows!! 2 hours went by and I have never been happier. As I got up to visit the water closet, I glanced to the left at a group three tables down from me. As fate would have it, it was the same couple I had passed on the street earlier. With nobody to tell me otherwise, I stopped and introduced myself. I informed them of their newly found “fame” and how obsessed I was with reading the blog they appear in. They were incredibly friendly to me and were amazed that I had recognized them. They also told me that Julie, the blog’s author, would be joining them soon and that we should hang out. I told them how much I would love to do that and I went back to my table with a huge smile on my face. We stayed until the end of the game and with no Julie in sight, we decided it was time to head back to the hotel.
We waved goodbye to the couple as we the left the bar and meandered back to the hotel, where we squeezed into the sardine can that is L’Avant Comptoir. Making immediate friends with a tall, brunette woman that was sandwiched against us, she asked if we had ever been L’Avant before, we quickly replied “No”. We asked her what was good and she began listing items like an experienced server. Since she was a regular who seemed to have a good relationship with the balding man behind the counter, we told her we were at her mercy. She ordered blood sausage with spiced caramelized apples, foie gras a la plancha, jambon croquettes, chicken in a lettuce wrap, and bite size pieces of grilled pork and two glasses of red wine. Although everything was delicious, the star of the show was the blood sausage. With each bite, I would look at Sarah and say, “Why have we waited so long to order this?” The foie gras was amazing as well. They were two bite size pieces of grilled foie gras on a skewer separated by roasted red peppers. They were incredible. Of all the things we were served, the least favorite were the small bites of grilled pork. After a long, event filled day, the bed 5 floors away was calling my name and I was happy to answer.